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LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Poison Mushroom posted:

Intersectionality, when used right, means "no oppression exists in a vacuum, patriarchy, institutionalized racism, heteronormativity, etc. are all branches of the same hosed up tree". When used incorrectly, it means "nuh uh, I'm more oppressed than you are!"

Christ. It couldn't even have been, like, 2011? At least before Laverne Cox was a household name, or something.

I'm always impressed by my ability to oppress people despite not trying or even caring.

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LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Adnachiel posted:

Actually, according to a comment, he just stands up and the naysayers run away in fear.

quote:

Some guy posted:
I picture some little guy ranting and raving at your booth until you stand up and look at him irritated, then they feel about an inch tall and cower back.

Malcolm Harris posted:
That's usually how it works.
No mention of everyone around the booth clapping and cheering though.

Shrinking fetish, it checks out. :barf:

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Mors Rattus posted:

Demon: Heirs to Hell

The End!

Next up: Vampire 2e, Werewolf: The Pack (pack and crossover stuff), Demeon: Splintered City: Seattle (Seattle book) or Demon: Flowers of Hell (the Player's Guide)?

I vote for more Demon content; it's really great setting. Question, how balanced are the powers? Most of my experience is with Vampire and Disciplines seemed all over the place.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Does that break the no research rule?

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

theironjef posted:

That rule exists so that we can be wrong about stuff without going all Simpsons quote on our comment feed every episode. We don't mind incidental contact with book content before we record.

That's fair. What's the best way to send you questions for Afterthoughts?

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
The stagnation of the Imperium is also something the novels address in the last half of the sextet. Leto dials it up to 11 so that no one will put up with that poo poo ever again.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Mors Rattus posted:

I mostly go to the new board game shop on the Newington/New Britain border.

The huge one with all the custom woodwork and the marble bathrooms? That has to be the nicest nerd shop I've ever been in.


I got to play a short session of Numenera this weekend and it was meh. Way too many fiddly bits for what's supposed to be a narrative game.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I'm working on babies first F&F write up and it's turning out to be a lot more words than I expected. What is the max character count for a post?

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Thanks for the answers. I'm coming in around 20K characters on the first draft so I should be okay.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Night10194 posted:

I'm still amazed anyone has actually played Paladium games.

RIFTS was the first table top game I played. Simon was a T800 programmed to believe he was a Catholic priest. I kicked rear end for Jesus and totally saved the soul of a robot horse.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I've read erotica that was less masturbatory than that.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I ran the whole adventure path for my group and would give it a 8.5 out of 10. It does a good job of flipping the script and giving an evil group challenges a good aligned party would not face. It is a little rough around the edges since it was published by a two man shop and could have used better editing. I'm working on a write up of Book 1 and I'll try to get part 1 posted this evening.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 1 - Introductions

The Way of the Wicked(WotW) is a level 1-20 Adventure Path for evil characters published by Fire Mountain Games for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system. It’s one of the more popular 3rd party adventure books for Pathfinder, showing up in the top 10 downloads of the monthly Paizo newsletter for years. Equally important, I ran the whole campaign from start to finish over the course of about 2.5 years. We’re starting with book 1 of 6: The Knot of Thorns. As a warning I’m not doing spoilers on anything so if you are or might be playing this campaign proceed at your own discretion.



INTRODUCTION
We start with a page from the author about the repetitive nature of playing as heroes and saving the world. He then launches into the well known issues with running an evil campaign; games devolving into PvP, finding motivation for adventures and the difficulty of developing interesting wicked plans.

Traditional good campaigns are straightforward, find bad guys, kill them, take their stuff, smile for the simple village folk, save the day. So why be evil?

quote:

The short answer – it is fun to be the bad guy! It’s fun to menace the populace in black spiky armor and to call forth the powers of hell to do your bidding. Bad guys get all the best lines. Bad guys have style. Bad guys get to laugh maniacally as they plot the downfall of those fools who dared oppose them!
WotW gives the players and their characters goals to work towards and organizing principles to avoid the common problems that arise in an evil campaign. More on this later.

MAKING AN EVIL DUDE or DUDETTE

quote:

Guilty. You are a lawbreaker – the worst of the worst. Too dangerous to live amongst the good people of Talingarde, they dragged you in chains before a magistrate and condemned you. They sent you to the worst prison in the land and there they forever marked you. They held you down and branded you with a runic F. You are forsaken. You won’t be at Branderscar Prison for long. Branderscar is only a holding pen. In three days – justice comes. In three days – everything ends.
What a pity. If only there was a way out of this stinking rat-hole. If only there was a way to escape. If only…
No. No one has ever escaped from Branderscar Prison. This is where your story ends.

You too can own* this bitchin' armor by the end of this book. *Limit 1 armor per party.

Talingarde is the most sickeningly lawful-good kingdom you could ever hate to find. Mendicant clerics roam the land healing the sick for nothing in return but thanks, noble knights sally forth to crush the first stirrings of evil. The land is ruled by House Darius supported by the Church of Mitra. You’ve lived your whole life in this place hiding who you are; and given the chance you’d destroy it all. The light of Mitra shines throughout the kingdom, but it wasn’t always that way. Before the rise of House Darius all gods were tolerated; now all faiths but Mitra have been suppressed and Asmodeus has been outlawed. In Talingarde crime is not tolerated, you have all been caught and convicted for something you really did; none of you are innocent.

Char Gen
Starting with stats the book suggests a standard 25 point buy (which is what I used) or an alternate method. First choose your primary stat and put an 18 in it, then choose a dump stat and put an 8 in it. For the other 4 stats roll 1d10+7 in order - without rerolls. The author argues that it gives a slightly higher power level than point buy and makes more interesting characters, I didn’t want my players saddled with that degree of randomness in what would be a long campaign.

Next choose a Race, the book discourages anything far outside the human norm as they would stick out and be a liability when you’re on a secret mission to destroy the kingdom.

There’s advice on all character Classes but we’ll cover the exceptions; anything goes but Paladin.
Instead players can be an Anti-Paladin, except LE and not CE. There are a few suggested changes to class abilities to accommodate the alignment shift.
Barbarians are allowed as long as they do not have the Chaotic alignment. Though rebellious by nature there may be good story reasons one would join up with followers of Asmodeus.
Cavaliers are advised to choose selfish orders such as the Order of the Cockatrice.
Evil Druids also need a good reason to team up with the worshippers of Asmodeus as they cannot be Lawful.
Gunslingers are also discouraged as the setting assumes no firearms and there is no gear intended for their use.
Ninja and Samurai need a good reason to be so far from home and may not have access to the weapons and armor that are preferred by their class.

For Feats nothing is changed. The book does suggest giving all PCs +2 Skill points per level to represent villains of their caliber being above average. (I used this option but should have limited it to non-INT classes).

No need to buy equipment since you’re all starting locked up in Castle Branderscar. Casters have lost their spellbooks, component pouches, familiars, foci, holy symbols and other assorted tools of the trade. They do though begin the game with all their memorized spells. (I appreciate the straight forwardness on this part, I think we've all had a GM let us buy all our equipment only to say, 'Surprise, you're in jail, erase all that poo poo'.)

Only four Alignment types are valid for this campaign; lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral or neutral evil. It's suggested that the GM can prohibit anything except LE. Lastly the PCs pick two Traits (essentially half feats), one of which must be the heinous crime you committed.
A final word of advice to the players is that they will be recruited into an Asmodean conspiracy and should make a character that will say ‘yes’ to that offer. (Again being up front with the players

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
You got caught doing something bad, very bad and were sent to the worst prison in Talingarde. You have may have done other terrible things in your time before being caught but that doesn’t matter. This crime is what matters, it’s what defines you. As a sign of your guilt you have been branded so that all good men and women will recognize your wickedness.

I can’t help but think of how Blue Rose deals with bad people; rehabilitation rather than mutilation.

The book offers 20 suggested crimes:

Arson
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: Whenever you score a critical hit with a fire attack, you receive a +2 fire damage bonus to your damage roll.
This bonus is a trait bonus.

Attempted Murder
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You gain a +2 trait bonus to Intimidate checks, and Intimidate is always a class skill for you.

Blasphemy
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: +2 trait bonus to Knowledge (religion) and Knowledge (religion) is always a class skill for you.

Consorting with the Dark Powers (Witchcraft)
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (planes) and Knowledge (arcana) checks,
and one of these skills (your choice) is always a class skill for you.

Desecration
Punishment: Death by burning
Benefit: You receive +1 trait bonus on all saving throws against divine spells.

Desertion
Punishment: Death by hanging
Benefit: You receive one bonus skill point per level that must be spent on the Profession (Soldier) skill.
Profession (Soldier) is always a class skill for you.

Dueling unto Death
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You gain a +1 trait bonus to Fortitude saves.

Extortion
Punishment: Life at hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You receive a +2 trait bonus to Intimidate checks, and Intimidate is always a class skill for you.

Forgery
Punishment: Life at hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You gain a +3 trait bonus to Linguistics skill checks to commit forgery
and Linguistics is always a class skill for you.

Fraud
Punishment: Life at hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You receive a +2 trait bonus to Bluff checks and Bluff is always a class kill for you.

Grave Robbery
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to confirm critical hits.

Heresy
Punishment: Death by burning.
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus on all saving throws against divine spells.

High Theft
Punishment: Life at hard labor in the salt mines
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to Reflex saves.

High Treason
Punishment: Death by drawing and quartering
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to Will saves.

Kidnapping
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to both Disarm and Grapple attempts.

Murder
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You deal 1 additional point of damage when flanking a foe.
This additional damage is a trait bonus.

Piracy
Punishment: Death by hanging
Benefit: You may select either Bluff or Intimidate.
The selected skill receives a +2 trait bonus and is always a class skill for you.

Sedition
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to Bluff checks and Bluff is always a class skill for you.
Further if you ever take the Leadership feat, you gain a +1 trait bonus to your Leadership score.

Slave-Taking
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You receive a +1 trait bonus to both Disarm and Grapple attempts.

Slave Trading
Punishment: Death by beheading
Benefit: You receive one bonus skill point per level that must be spent on the Appraise skill.
The Appraise skill is always a class skill for you.


MY PCs
Anti-Paladin - Tiefling, devoted herself to Asmodeus. Caught desecrating a Mitran church.
Cleric - Human, cleric of Asmodeus. He had a pathological hatred of orphans. Caught burning down a Mitran church.
Ninja - Human, last surviving heir of a far off kingdom. Fled to Talingarde where he was caught in a duel to the death.
Witch - Human, power hungry to a fault. She was caught trying to summon a devil.
Wizard - Elf, only interested in increasing his own knowledge. Accused of blasphemy for arguing the superiority of arcane magic.


NEXT TIME: A brief history of Talingarde and more thoughts on being a do-badder.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

senrath posted:

I'll admit I haven't read or played through it, but the bits I've heard from others who have played through it indicated a good portion of Way of the Wicked is "Do EEEEEEVIL things because you're EEEEEEVIL and that's what EEEEEEVIL people do for no other reason than to do EEEEEEVIL." What's your opinion on that?

I would mostly disagree with that impression. The DM advice, which I'll be covering in the next installment, is very clear that the PCs should not be doing evil for it's own sake spreading mayhem where ever they go. If you murder a guy and burn down his house it should be in furtherance of your plot to destroy the Kingdom not just because you can. The PCs do engage in heinous deeds over the course of the AP and the DM advice recommends a fade to black rather loving descriptions of torture and violence.

quote:

Anti-Paladin Chat
I prefer Blackguard but only if it's pronounced "Blagard".

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I'd be pissed too if I was the over God of the poo poo show that is the Realms. Gouge out my own omniscience so I didn't have watch Elminster loving a bear.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 1 -

Talingarde: A Gazetteer
The setting for WotW is the kingdom of Talingarde an England sized island off the coast of the main continent. Almost no information is given about the mainland over the course of the Adventure Path so it could easily be slotted into Golarion or any other campaign world.
pre:
Talingarde
Alignment: LG
Capital: Matharyn (105,000)
Notable Settlements: Ghastenhall (82,000), Daveryn (59,000), 
Havelyn (21,000), Farholde (9,500), Aldencross (1,800), Varyston (1,200)
Ruler: King Markadian V called the Brave, Protector of the Righteous
Government: Religious Monarchy
Languages: Common, Dwarven
Religion: Mitra, the Shining Lord
Eighty years ago the now peaceful nation was wracked by a war of succession contested between the half-elven lords of House Barca and noble human knights of House Darius. At the time of the war Talingarde was a polytheistic nation, with the ruling Barcan kings having a special affinity for Asmodeus. House Darius recognizes only one god, Mitra, and opposes Asmodeus most of all. The final battle of the war occurred on the Plains of Tamberlyn where King Jaraad of House Barca meet Markadian of House Darius. The Darian forces were vastly outnumbered but filled with holy zeal; the Barcan army was composed mainly of mercenaries. The Battle of Tamberlyn was fought between two enormous stone spires known as the Lords of Tamberlyn. Cutting a long story short the Barcan army was poorly managed and through a series of blunders was devastated by the forces of Markadian, longbowmen enfilading their foes trapped in mud and disastrous retreats. Finally King Jaraad and his elite griffon mounted knights brought the fight to Markadian and his personal guard. After a mighty duel Jaraad was slain and Markadian claimed the throne. The battle proved a complete rout for House Barca, instead of utterly destroying his former foes the new King Markadian, called the Victor, showed mercy and spared those that would bend the knee swearing to the new King and Mitra.

For 46 years after the war Markadian reigned as king of Talingarde. The young paladin proved himself a capable ruler; defeating a bugbear invasion, bringing unruly nobles to heel, turning the capital Matharyn into a great city, reinforcing the defenses along the northern border and making peace with the Yutak Tribes. The Victor spread the worship of Mitra throughout the kingdom while tolerating other faiths; including that of Asmodeus as long as it was discrete.

quote:

Today, his statues are to be found in almost every town and hamlet throughout
the kingdom. He did have his faults though. Like so many great rulers – he was a great soldier and king but a poor father.
The Victor was succeeded by his son Martius, Markadian II called the Learned. Martius was a poor king notable mainly for ordering the construction of the great library of Matharyn and rebuilding the old family castle into the royal palace known as the Adarium. Martius had no interest into the day to day ruling of the kingdom and allowed his brother Prince Hallen to take great role in running the kingdom. This arrangement would have been fine except that Prince Hallen was batshit crazy. The Prince believed that his mother was an angel and that he was infallible; on magically craft wings he would soar above the capital and soon he received visions of “angels”. Rumors reached the King that his brother spoke of replacing him, rumors the King dismissed.

The Prince, gripped by madness, flew to the Adarium and slew the King with a flaming sword; ending his brother’s six year rule and proclaiming himself the new king, Markadian the III, later called ‘the Mad’. While many would have accepted the new king as a messenger from Mitra it would not last. Soon after insane commands began to flow forth, including an order to prepare the armies of Talingarde for an invasion of Hell to put an end to Asmodeus, Prince of the Nine Hells.

quote:

Officially, the histories record that after only five months in power Markadian III called the Mad tried to fly from the highest spire of the Adarium without his magic wings. More likely, he was thrown from the spire by paladins who would tolerate no more of this madman’s blasphemies.
The heir to the throne was the son of the second king Martius; Marcus, 29 years old, was a brave and handsome knight. After the troubles of the last six and half years he needed to unite the kingdom against a common enemy. King Markadian IV known as the Zealot, began the Asmodean Purges, blaming the unpopular cult for using black magic to drive the previous king mad. All effort were turned towards exterminating the Asmodeans and they almost succeeded. Markadian IV passed after reigning for 12 years, blame for his untimely death was placed on the cult of Asmodeus igniting a new round of purges.

The current king, Markadian V succeeded his father, at the age of 22. He has reigned now for 16 years. An early test of his rule came in repelling another bugbear invasion, earning him the title “the Brave”.

quote:

Markadian V has continued the prohibition against the cult of Asmodeus but does not pursue the purges with the same vigor as his father. After all, that battle is largely won. No one has heard of an Asmodean cultist in Talingarde for years. Instead, he turns his attention to the west and the north hoping to be the king who brings the entire island of Talingarde under his dynasty’s dominion. He has failed in one duty however. He has failed to yet produce a son. Instead, he has only one child -- a beautiful, brilliant young princess named Bellinda. Twenty years of age, she is already a prodigy of arcane magic. If her father produces no heir it is an open question whether the men of Talingarde will follow a queen instead of a king. Her story is yet to be written.


GEOGRAPHY OF TALINGARDE
The major island and it’s attendant lesser islands can be grouped into six regions:


The Cambrian Bay
A massive sea in the center of Talingarde connects the kingdom, including the major cities Matharyn and Ghastenhall and the Heartlands. For some reason the book includes the city of Daveryn in this region despite being separated by a massive mountain range. Daveryn, Ghastenhall and Matharyn are given more detail in future books of the Adventure Path.

The Heartland
The nation’s true strength; vast stretches of farmland, broken up by small forests and dotted with bucolic villages. This region is the source of the many hedge knights, devout priests and stout peasants that provide the backbone of Talingarde.

The Borderlands
The most prominent feature of this region is the Watch Wall a series of 12 castles stretching from Farholde in the west to the eastern edge of the island. The fortifications run from sea to sea along the river Tyburn and Lake Tarik and protect the kingdom from invasion by savage bugbear tribe and other monsters from the frozen north.

The Caer Bryr
A mountain range separates the forest from which this region draws it’s name from Talingarde proper. It is the home of a primitive human and half elven tribes, the Iraens, followers of a druidic faith who do not acknowledge the supremacy of Mitra or the king in Matharyn. Legends tell of all manner of spirits and monsters haunting the forest.

The Savage North
The plains, mountains and forest of this fertile region are dominated by 3 species; the savage Bugbears, the Naatanuk a race of sapient polar bears, and the enigmatic Ice Elves. It is considered a mystery to most people in Talingarde.

The Lands of the Yutak
The Yutak are basically eskimos. They’re a friendly people but mostly keep to themselves since they don’t share a common language with the Talireans. They will trade furs and ivory for worked goods and are known to visit cities on the western coast from time to time.

NINE PLACES OF LEGEND
The book includes 9 locations that aren’t part of the adventure path but could serve potential side quests. Extra plot hooks are appreciated but there’s enough content in the AP I never felt the need to use them. For the sake of brevity I’m just listing them.

The Lost Island of Taane-thak (mythic home of a frost giant kingdom)
The Barrow of the First King (lost tomb rumored to contain an Asmodean artifact)
The Children of the White Spider (a race of intelligent spiders hidden in the Caer Bryr)
The Mead Hall of the Ice Elven King (rumored to be a refuge in the frozen north)
The Lost Ansgarian Mine (legendary mithral mine of the dwarven kings)
The Ice Troll Forges (remnants of a troll civilization craft powerful weapons)
The Sunken City of Aath-Aryn (a sunken Talirean city home to a Triton kingdom)
The Wreck of the Dawn Triumphant (a sunken ship containing a Mitran artifact)
The Holy Caverns of the Naatanuk (treasure hoard of their shaman leaders)

ORGANIZATIONS
In our last bit of setting information in this section the book details 4 groups in Talingarde that will play an important role over the course of the campaign.

The Knights of the Alerion
Now the foremost knightly order in the land this brotherhood rose to prominence after supporting House Darius during the war of succession. They are fiercely devoted to Mitra and were the chief prosecutors of the purges against worshippers of Asmodeus after the death of Markadian III. The current king is the highest ranking member of the order.

Sacred Brotherhood of the Gryphon
The remnants of the knightly orders that supported the Barcan side of the war. Today the group is in decline as greater prestige can be earned for a competent knight by joining the Knights of Alerion. The Gryphon’s do though boast many famous members over their history including their present leader, Lord Vastenus Barca, most trusted military commander of the current king.

The Church of Mitra
The force that binds the kingdom rivaling House Darius in power. Priests of Mitra are everywhere doing good works and helping the people of the kingdom. The people of Talingarde trust the servants of the Shining Lord and the royal house works with them ‘hand in glove’. The great Cathedral is located in the capital city of Matharyn.

The Blessed Order of St. Macarius
An order of monks that travel the kingdom tending to the sick and alleviating suffering and in times of war travel with the army to heal the injured. Most interestingly nearly all members Church of Mitra capable of casting divine spells come from this order.


A VILLAINOUS CAMPAIGN
The author expands on the introduction with useful advice about 5 common pitfalls of an evil campaign and how this adventure addresses them.

1 - No Rest for the Wicked
Heroes can sit back waiting to sally forth and dispatch evil foes. Villains need to have evil schemes, which can be difficult for the players to concoct as the lack the comprehensive information the GM possess. WotW deals with this by giving the characters a pre-made plan devised by an NPC. The plot to destroy Talingarde is complex and the PCs are an integral part.

2 - The Trouble with Minions
Evil masterminds often have hordes of minions to do their bidding which can get boring for the players as their servants are out having all the fun. The second book in the AP will add optional rules to run an evil organization but the players should never rely on their minions. WotW addresses this by presenting challenges that no mob of underlings could hope to deal with; some things, if you want them done right, you have to do yourself.

3 - Us against the World
Evil campaigns often breakdown as player characters come into conflict and disagreements devolve into murder,magic and PvP. In a basic good campaign things wouldn’t go that far but with evil characters all bets are off. WotW deals with this in two ways: early on the PCs are required to sign a devilish contract prohibiting them from betraying each other; second, while the PCs may hate each other and have rivals among their allies the overwhelming theme is that the entire kingdom of Talingarde is opposed to them and if they don’t cooperate they will be destroyed.

4 - PG-13 Villainy
Boundaries are important in a shared experience like an RPG; what’s appropriate for one group may not be for another. Torture, mass executions, hot wax bondage; these aspects of the story are interesting to explore but should be handled in a way that doesn’t derail the campaign with out of character arguments. The author suggests handling this like a PG-13 movie where the worst stuff is done off screen or with a face to black. The characters should be villains, not the players.

5 - On a Mission from God
Evil for it’s own sake is boring and mindless slaughter does not a campaign make. Our villains need a motivation and the so called good people of Talingarde have provided it by persecuting the followers of Asmodeus. Before House Darius took over the worship of many gods was permitted, now all gods but Mitra are suppressed and Asmodeus is forbidden. The book recommends that the PCs find motivation beyond just mayhem; they need to have suffered indignities at the hands of Mitra’s followers that required cold hard vengeance. We are urged to be fans of the characters, even if they’re terrible people, on their quest for vengeance.


CAMPAIGN SYNOPSIS
The book ends with a synopsis of the campaign. I appreciate the author giving an outline of things to come. For a GM thinking about running this AP it let’s them plan ahead to future challenges. Going to boil it down to the highlight reel.

Book I
- Escape prison
- Join the cult of Asmodeus lead by Cardinal Thorn
- Deliver weapons to a Bugbear Horde
- Destroy a key fortification allowing Bugbears into the kingdom

Book II
- Travel to Farholde on the western border of the kingdom
- Seize control of an ancient daemonic temple
- Defend the temple for 31 weeks
- Complete an unholy ritual to obtain a magic disease

Book III
- Travel to the city of Ghastenhall
- Gather an elite army to assault the holy Vale of Valtaerna
- Launch your raid on the Vale
- Control the Vale for 3 months and slaughter any that oppose you
- Storm the great Cathedral of Mitra destroy the Order of St. Macarius

Book IV
- Travel to the Bugbear occupied city of Daveryn
- Propose an alliance with the great black wyrm Chargammon
- Destroy Chargammon's nemesis to gain his help
- Assassinate King Markadian with Chargammon's assistance

Book V
- Cardinal Thorn tries to destroy the PCs fearing their power
- The PCs get a chance to deal with the Paladin that has dogged their steps
- Locate the Cardinal's phylactery
- Track down and destroy their master

Book VI
- With Thorn defeated only the destruction of the Bugbear horde stands in the way of seizing power
- For 3 years the PCs will control Talingarde
- The Princess returns to lead her people against the villainous tyrants
- A final climactic battle

This is a 6 book AP but there is a 7th book that contains a bunch of bonus material that didn't make it into the other books and expands on the story.


NEXT TIME: The actual adventure.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Cassa posted:

So, probably a really dumb question; With regards to Princess Bellinda, if she's such a powerful wizard type, and no heir is produced, couldn't she just magic herself into a guy?

Stat wise she's a Sorcerer and doesn't have the appropriate spell to change gender. It will be a moot point anyways thanks to the PCs.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 1 - The Branderscar Redemption


I lied at the end of the last installment, we’ve got some more backstory before the actual adventure. Screw you, we’re Evil.


Each book also starts with this handy summary, the story being divided into Acts. Using the breakdown of when PC’s should level I ignored XP for my campaign and just had PCs level when appropriate.


Because making a character in Pathfinder is slow

As established, Talingarde is bestest most Lawful Good kingdom ever constituted, but its rulers made a mistake when they drove out Asmodeus and persecuted his adherents. The devil god demands respect and will have his revenge. If only the knights of Talingarde had completed their work and not allowed an Asmodean priest to survive.

Samuel Havelyn was the bookish second son of a noble family, he joined the Church of Mitra but his father was only impressed by the knightly deeds of his older brother Sir Thomas. Young Samuel rose quickly in the Church by virtue of scholarship and was resigned to leading a life of devotion until one fateful day.

quote:

Samuel met Bronwyn. Bronwyn of Balentyne was perhaps the greatest beauty of her generation. Samuel fell deeply in love almost instantly and, using all his wit and charm, befriended her. His hope was that with time he could turn friendship into love.
Samuel was firmly in the friendzone, made all the worse when Bronwyn met his handsome brother and fell in love with Sir Thomas. Soon Thomas and Bronwyn were married and on their wedding night Samuel prayed to Asmodeus, calling down a curse upon the couple.

quote:

The curse would claim the life of Bronwyn, causing her to die in childbirth. Still her child survived and was named for his grandfather, who had died the year he was born -- Richard Thomasson of Havelyn.

Samuel would continue his rise in the Church of Mitra, attaining the rank of Cardinal, while expanding his knowledge of and devotion to Asmodeus. Eventually he was caught by the inquisition and burned at the stake along with his library of forbidden tomes. Any ordinary man would have died that day. Samuel lived and clawing his way from an unmarked grave uttered terrible oaths to Asmodeus. Asmodeus heard and on that night Samuel was reborn a lich, taking the name Cardinal Adrastus Thorn.

Cardinal Thorn would flee to the frozen north and there by divine guidance met another Asmodean, the warrior Sakkarot. Thorn crafted him a flaming axe gaining the savage warrior’s allegiance. There beyond the borders of Talingarde Thorn devised a plan to destroy the kingdom that had shunned him.
  1. First, unite the Bugbear tribes under Sakkarot
  2. Second, destroy the four pillars of Talingarde
    1. The Watch Wall
    2. The Holy Order of Saint Macarius
    3. The Knights of the Alerion
    4. The Royal House of Darius
  3. Third, when all seems lost an heir to throne will appear and defeat the Bugbear menace. Of course this lost scion of House Barca would be a worshipper of Asmodeus.
Cardinal Thorn can’t do this all by himself, he needs minions. He plans to gather nine “Knots” of followers one for each circle of hell. Thorn is committed to his gimmick as a good villain should be. The first 8 knots have been recruited it only remains to recruit the final group and as luck would have it an assortment of hardened criminals are awaiting punishment in Branderscar prison. Escaping the prison will be the perfect test for this group, a way to prove their are fit to be his most elite servants.

The book gives a summary of who these are Knots and what they’re up to which I’m skipping preserve the surprises later in the AP. I will point out that 3 of the Knots only consist of one member. Cardinal Thorn has some issues with organizational bloat.


No one has ever escaped from the Rock

ACT ONE: PRISON BREAK! (PCs are level 1)
Or PCs have been beaten, branded, searched thoroughly and find themselves shackled hand and foot to the wall in a common cell. Escape is unlikely, you have little choice but to wait grimly for sentence to be carried out. After some time to get acquainted and discuss their various crimes they are interrupted by the arrival of a group of armed guards led by the watch Sergeant Tomas Blackerly(CN Human Fighter 3) . This is the guy that held the brand when you were first brought to the prison and he laughed while you burned.

An Unexpected Visitor
Now he seems slightly confused (he’s charmed). He order’s one of the PCs to be unshackled and brought out of the cell to meet with a lovely lady who wants to say her final farewells. The book suggests choosing the most social character of the group. Waiting in a room down the hall is a beautiful woman who has obviously been crying.

quote:

“Oh, dearest,” proclaims the unfamiliar woman. “I’m so relieved you’re alive!” She quickly turns to Tomas. “Could we please have a moment alone, good sir? For pity’s sake?”
Tomas goes blank for a bit and then quickly agrees. “Of course, my lady. For you,’ tis no problem.”
Once he’s out of the room her demeanor changes revealing the grief as an act. She introduces herself as Tiadora and explains that if only they could escape Branderscar they have a mysterious benefactor that would like to meet them. Should they be successful the PCs are given directions to an old manor not far off. She offers the character her veil as a token of her very false affections.

quote:

Veil of Useful Items
This appears to be a fine silk veil of gossamer cloth. Only as it is held and closely inspected can you see small cloth patches of various shapes. One patch can be detached each round as a move action. Detaching a patch causes it to become an actual item. This veil contains:
• 2 daggers
• Bullseye lantern (full, lit and shuttered)
• Hempen rope (50-foot coil)
• Sack full of needed spell components (worth less than a 1 gp) and common clothes in the PCs sizes
• Thieves Tools, Masterwork
• Window (2 ft. by 4 ft., up to 2 ft. deep)
• Potion of cure light wounds
• 100 gold pieces
• Unholy Symbol of Asmodeus (silver)
Note that the window patch will create a window (and therefore a hole) in a nearby wall. If there are no nearby walls, it simply turns into a common wooden window frame. It cannot be
placed on a living creature however. Once removed, a patch cannot be replaced.

Useful indeed.

The PC is given a chance to ask questions but will only receive vague answers, any request for help in escaping is rebuffed. This encounter sets the tone for Tiadora throughout the campaign, she’s kind of a bitch and has little respect for the PCs. After this bit of roleplaying the guards return and she acts out an emotional exit. Before leaving she hits Sgt Blackerly with the whammy again suggesting he not have the PC searched before being returned to the cell. The PC gets one last jab from Tiadora via telepathic message reminding them they have 3 days to escape. Afterwards the PC is returned to the cell and shackled with the others. (I took the chosen player into a different room to have this conversation and enjoyed watching him explain all this to the other PCs and them be baffled.) Although the the PCs are now left alone in their cell prison guards, equipped with a signal horn, are not far away.

NO CELL CAN HOLD ME
The first real challenge our PCs will face is getting out of this damned cell. With the Veil they now have a real chance. But don’t forget those guards, if the PCs argue loudly or make noise in their escape attempt they will respond and they have the numbers to overwhelm the PCs. As failed attempts mount the guards grow more and more suspicious so a single concerted effort is best. If no PC can effectively pick the lock there are suggestions for creative use of a variety of low level spells. Fortunately the walls and floors of the castle are thick stone, nothing short of the signal horn will be heard by anyone except the guards stationed nearby. Once out of their manacles and past the cell door they only need to deal with those guards and the rest of the castle. No sweat.


The PCs start in room 18A, the other cells are empty except for 19. In this cell is Grumblejack, one of the last remaining ogres in Talingarde. He’s remarkable in a number of ways; he has above average intelligence, his alignment is NE rather than CE, and if you notice the tiny horns he has just a drop of fiendish blood in his family tree. Grumblejack was living a life of casual banditry out in the countryside until he was caught not long ago. He can be cowed into helping the PCs in their escape attempt and could eventually be a servant to this wicked band.

A lovable fuzzball.

The guards (LG Human Warrior 2) are stationed in room 17 once dealt with there are two ways down from here; an oversized chimney to room 11 or stairs to room 16. The chimney leads to the keep’s kitchen and is a DC 10 climb check. These are the only two ways out as this floor has no windows. (Although this would be a good use of the Veil.) Off of the guard room is a small chamber, room 20 with a wooden table where the lucky PC had his meeting with Tiadora.

Unbeknownst to PCs they are unwittingly helped by one other person; Sgt Tomas Blackerly. The Sergeant has for years been skimming from the payroll, running illicit card games, selling the guards cheap booze and operating the castle guard at half its normal complement of men. This sad state of affairs has been allowed by the Warden, Mathias Richter, a wizard from a noble family who is more interested in his arcane researches than running the prison. Thanks to Sgt Blackerly most guard posts are undermanned and the guards the PCs meet have a 25% chance of being drunk. If the PCs escape their cell but are recaptured by the guards Blackerly ceases his illicit activities for the time being, making their escape efforts more difficult. Do it right the first time, don’t gently caress up.

On the 1st floor of the Great Hall the PCs will encounter the most concentrated resistance.
8 - the Entry Way is 80 feet long and lit by a pair of torches. At the massive door on the north wall two guards are stationed. The PCs will need to be extra stealthy or act fast to deal with these two before they can sound the alarm.
9 - in the Barracks the PCs will typically find 3 off duty guards. Without their armor they are much less of a threat. The room contains a number of cots and a dozen locked chests. We get a d20 table for chest contents. A handful of money can be found between 1 and 25 gp of loose cash, there are a few objects worth significantly more and some food. The real treasure is an assortment of commoners clothes. The PCs are dressed in filthy prison rags, equipped with normal clothing they can move about the castle without being immediately recognized as escapees.
10 - The Mess Hall is empty most of the time and likely to be so at any time the PCs are making their escape.
11 - The Kitchen will usually have two NPC servants of the castle working to prepare meals for the guards. It also contains a large store of food which could be useful to escaping prisoners.
12 - The Armory door is locked (DC 25), Sgt Blackerly has the key. Inside is enough assorted armor and weapons to outfit the whole group. Any weapons in which the PCs are specialized can also be found here.
13 - The Storeroom is also locked (DC 25). In here are spare guard uniforms (useful!), torches, 100ft of rope and two 10 gallon kegs of lantern oil (that’s a lot of mayhem) along with other assorted junk.
14 - The Sergeant’s Office is cluttered and his desk covered in paperwork. A careful examination will find a map of the prison and and evidence that he is stealing from the prison.
15 - The Sergeant’s Quarters are messy and contain little of value. Hidden under the bed though is an iron lock box (DC 30) containing a dozen bottle of cheap whisky and 1235gp. All PCs will immediately realize this is not the normal stash of a guardsman.
16 - A stairwell connecting with room 17. It’s lit by 1 torch.

Outside the Great Hall
4 - In front of the main entrance is a Fountain with a statue of Dothan the Just, patron saint of law and order. :doink:. The courtyard area surrounding the prison is patrolled by two guards equipped with a bullseye lantern and a signal horn.
5 - On the east side of the castle is a vegetable garden. The PCs can gather several days provisions from here.
5a is a belladonna shrub. A PC that recognizes it can gather a few doses worth of poisoned leaves.
6 - The Guard Towers are the remnants of a bygone era of the castle. The battlement is patrolled by a pair of guards. (Anyone looking at the map will see that the Warden’s Tower splits up the wall but our AP test doesn’t address this.) The castle walls are also the first chance for the PCs to escape. One look should discourage any attempt here; a 60 ft drop to jagged rocks will only be followed by a swim against vicious tides. Nothing a level 1 PC is likely to survive.
6a is the castle Garderobe and it offers two opportunities. Off-duty guards can be caught here doing their business and if killed their absence won’t be noted right away. It’s also a slightly safer way out of the castle and into the sea. The sea is still a terrible choice.
7 - The prison’s Kennel house two watchdogs, eliminating them can slow down any attempt to track the PCs after their escape.

The Warden’s Tower
21 - The first floor contains a history of the castle along with a number of proud banners. It’s well lit and has a spiral staircase leading up.
22 - The Warden’s Library fills this floor. There are a lot of books but only 3 of value with prices ranging from 75 - 250gp..
23 - The spiral staircase ends here. There’s two doors in the room but it’s otherwise empty unless the PCs have hosed up somehow and the castle is on alert.
24 - The Warden’s Office is sparse and functional. In his desk can be found a very useful map of the surrounding area including their destination. In a locked drawer is the Warden’s spellbook which any wizard PC will appreciate.
25 - The Warden’s Private Chambers are finely appointed as befits the son of a noble house. Mathias Richter (LH Human Aristocrat 1/Wizard 3) can be found here most of the time unless the castle is on alert. He’ll try to run if confronted with melee combat but will fight to keep any prisoners from escaping.

The Gatehouse
3 - A three story structure marking the PCs exit from the keep.
3a - Heavy double doors on either side of the room with arrow slits on the east and west wall, overhead is murder hole. Not a good place to be caught.
3b - There’s no lock on the door leading into this room and a ladder will connect them to the rest of the building.
3c - This room is where Sgt Blackerly is most likely to be found running his illicit cards games. Guards who should be on watch in other parts of the prison are here gambling leaving their posts at half strength.
3d - This level connects 3b and 3c and the roof. It has more arrow slits looking out in all directions.
3e - The roof has one guard his compatriot being involved in the card game below. Jumping from here to the water below is guaranteed suicide.

The Way out
2 - The 100ft long bridge is the only safe place to jump to the into the sea but why would you do that with the guardhouse so close.
1 - The Guard House has one guard on duty (the other being in Blackerly’s card game) with a guard dog. Once eliminated the PCs are free.

There's some good fights to be had getting out of the prison and the PCs will be sorely tested

CROSSING THE MOORS
The PCs need to get to the manor, ahead of the is a trackless salt marsh. There’s a few maps of this area in the prison which if found makes the journey trivial. If not they have to navigate the swap with each failed skill checks delaying them an hour. If the don’t make it by dawn search parties will be out for them.

quote:

On the moor, our villains can meet any animal companions, mounts or familiars they are due. Such an animal may (at the Game Master’s discretion) lead them to the house of Adrastus Thorn almost as if some divine patron were sending them a sign.
Also to be found on the moor is Lashtongue the Giant Toad, he’s a grumpy old SOB that will try to eat anything he meets. If killed the PCs can track down his lair which contains 170gp worth of loot. This whole section feels anti-climatic after the prison break and I skipped it.

This section also has advice about what to do if the PCs go off the rails and try to go somewhere other than the manor house. They are wanted men and women with no resources; all roads lead to Cardinal Thorn. Let’s assume the PCs do as expected.

quote:

After escaping the prison, surviving the monstrous Lashtongue and crossing the moors with guard patrols at your heels, finding the house on the Old Moor Road pales beside your other accomplishments. As promised, a lonely lantern burns in the upper story. The place otherwise shows little sign of habitation. Old but well-appointed, the house is large, imposing and alone on its hill. Painted a dark green and surrounded by barbed wrought iron fencing, nothing about this place seems inviting or a sanctuary. Still, it is your destination. Where will you go if not here? You have an appointment to keep. Best not to keep your nameless benefactor waiting…
If the PCs don’t escape after 3 days punishment is carried out and our story is over. The book recommends against this for obvious reasons.

NEXT TIME: Meet your Master

LongDarkNight fucked around with this message at 12:18 on Nov 18, 2016

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

gradenko_2000 posted:

You might want to shorten the Veil of Useful Items statblock, as it's breaking tables.

Sorry about that.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Night10194 posted:

I've never liked running pre-written adventures (I like writing my own and I know my players and know they'll never stay on rails in any form) but I can't imagine how anyone runs a pre-written campaign. It just feels like sooner or later your players are going to do things different enough to diverge completely, even if they really like the basic gist of the plot.

Selachian said it pretty well but I would describe the major sections of the AP as sandbox-ish. The PCs are given a goal but with wide latitude in how to accomplish it. Asking for guidance from the important NPCs is met with a, "You figure it out, also if you fail we'll kill you and torture you for all eternity." I've played and DM'ed a number of other Pathfinder APs and this felt less railroady than any other.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 1 - All Twisted Up


ACT TWO: INTO THE KNOT (PCs are level 2)
The PCs are met at the door by Tiadora, she’s changed her clothes but she’s still a bitch.

quote:

“Dearest, you took long enough,” she says pitilessly. “We were beginning to wonder if you’d ever make it. Oh, and you brought friends. The master commands all of you to appear before him but before that, you must be made presentable. Slaves!” She claps her hands. A dozen young attractive men and women all wearing very traditional servant’s livery appear quickly, their heads bowed. “These people are our guests,” she commands imperiously. “See them to their rooms. I want them cleaned, dressed and refreshed. Quickly.” There is something in that last word that sounds like a threat. Certainly the slaves take it that way, hustling to perform their duties.
The slaves have all been charmed so often by Tiadora that they’ve effectively been lobotomized. The PCs are given a chance to relax but are eventually summoned to meet the master. If Grumblejack is with the party he is not invited to the meeting.


Devilishly handsome.

quote:

At last Tiadora leads you to a beautifully appointed office richly decorated with dark wood and sumptuous brocade tapestry. Sitting in a leather high-backed chair is a devilishly handsome fellow who smiles as you enter. “I believe you to be the first to ever escape from Branderscar Prison. Well done! Of course, you had help from the outside,” he says with a wicked smile.

“But enough with the pleasantries. You must be curious why I’ve helped you. Rest assured this is no random act of altruism. I have brought you here for a reason. My name is Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. I am the last high priest of Asmodeus left on the island of Talingarde. Once the Prince of Nessus was rightly revered alongside the other great powers. Now, the king of Talingarde has become a puppet to Mitran fanatics who wish to destroy any religion that does not bow to their insipid sun god.

“For their blasphemy, I will see the same people who imprisoned and condemned you suffer. I understand what you went through for I have faced it myself.” With that, he pulls down the sleeve of his robe and reveals his own runic ‘F’ brand. “I am going to burn Talingarde to the ground and from the ashes I will build a new nation that knows its rightful master. I cannot do this alone. I seek servants worthy of our Infernal Father’s majesty. Have I found them in you?”

He rises and his eyes flash with hellfire and divine purpose. “Join me! Serve me well in this holy endeavor and I will raise you up in the eyes of gods and men. I will make you princes of the new Talingarde. Today, swear fealty to me and to Asmodeus.”

“Put aside forgiveness and I shall give you vengeance. Put aside mercy and be made powerful. Put aside peace and become my harbingers of war. What say you? Will you swear your allegiance or will you burn with the rest of the blind fools?”

If they decline the offer or try to attack Thorn it ends badly, Tiadora makes short work of them. Let’s assume the PCs accept the offer. Asmodeus is a LE god so this whole arrangement is sealed with a contract signed in the blood of the PCs and the Cardinal. There’s one copy for the PCs and one for Thorn to keep.

quote:

THE PACT OF THORNS
Behold on this day __________ in the eighth age of this world a perpetual Compact is made between Cardinal Adrastus Thorn (hereafter the Master) and those who would be bound to him as his acolytes (hereafter the Bound). Both the Master and the Bound shall hold fast and true to this Compact through all trial and tribulation. By blood and soul the Bound commit to the Compact and swear that it shall never be undone.

The Bound shall know and understand the Four Loyalties.

The First Loyalty is to their patron and god – mighty Asmodeus, first among the fallen, prince of the nine hells, our father below. They shall do all that can be done to further his worship and his glory.

The Second Loyalty is to their master – He who is called the Cardinal Adrastus Thorn, High Priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde. They shall do the Master no harm and obey his every commandment as long as those commandments do not clash with their First Loyalty.

The Third Loyalty is to their companions – the other Bound who serve alongside them. The Bound shall deal with each other fairly and honorably as long as doing so does not clash with their first or second loyalties. All treasure, wealth and reward garnered in their exploits will be equally shared with all of the Bound who aided in its acquisition.

The Fourth Loyalty is to themselves – for Asmodeus is the Lord of Ambition and all who serve him should strive to become great and powerful in his service as long as doing so does not clash with their first, second or third loyalties. By their weakness, ye shall know the Unworthy.

The Bound swear that they cleave to and uphold the Four Loyalties even in the face of death and damnation.

The Master swears that as long as the Four Loyalties are upheld, he shall reward the Bound as they deserve for their deeds.

Thus it is written, and thus it shall be.

We being of sound mind and free will do so swear and let they who violates this Compact know all the wrath of Hell unending.

Signed,
________________________
The Pact is important for game reasons because it helps to avoid the usual evil campaign pitfall of the party members turning on each other.

With the diabolical legal formalities completed Thorn gives them 3 days to rest and relax. They can amuse themselves with the servants in the Manor but are prohibited from leaving. Questions to Tiadora will be meet with more vague, sneering answers. Tiadora uses this time to surreptitiously collect hair samples from each of the PCs. With these samples and their blood on the contact Thorn will have no trouble scrying on the PCs.

The PCs are also provided with any starting equipment the would normally have received, up to 200gp of other class appropriate gear, a silver unholy symbol of Asmodeus and one very useful item:

quote:

Iron Circlet
DESCRIPTION
This circlet of wrought iron alters itself to comfortably fit any wearer. It allows the wearer to alter their appearance as with a disguise self spell. As part of the disguise, the circlet can be changed to appear as any sort of hat, headgear, or hairstyle the wearer desires.
Unbeknownst to the PCs the Iron Circlet is not just a tarted up hat of disguise, it also gives the wearer a -10 penalty on saves vs divination if the caster has something belonging to them, like a lock of hair or blood. The Cardinal has serious trust issues.

The PCs will also find they are not alone in the Manor, there is another group of fresh recruits, Thorn’s prospective 7th knot. The group calls themselves “The White Ravens”.

Elise Zadaria (LE Human Witch CR2) - the leader of a group of wicked adventurers from the mainland.
Dostan Alfson (NE Half-Elf Barbarian CR2) - he talks very little and is fanatically devoted to Elise.
Tallus “Trak” Rackburn (LE Human Ranger CR2) - twin brother to the groups Cleric Trik he delights in hunting humans.
Titus “Trik” Rackburn (LE Human Cleric CR2) twin brother to Trak, an outwardly pleasant demeanor hides his true nature; that he is a cultist of Asmodeus and serial killer.

The White Ravens could shape up to rivals, allies or romantic interests. They will play a larger role in Book 2 of the AP, for now though they aren’t important. When 3 days have elapsed the PCs are brought before Cardinal Thorn.

THE CRUEL TUTELAGE OF CARDINAL THORN

quote:

“Have you enjoyed your gifts? The iron circlets allow you to move amongst your enemies as one of them. The silver amulets will remind you of your true loyalties. And the other items – well, you need them now.
“You have done well to escape from Branderscar and to accept my offer. However, you are still not ready for my service. Tiadora will lead you to the basement of this domicile. There you will find nine chambers each more dangerous than the last. Somewhere hidden within these chambers is a pendant of silver and sapphire. Recover the pendant and bring it to me. Let nothing and no one stand in your way.”
He stands up and looks out of the manor house window across the grey moor. “It’s almost dusk. You have until dusk tomorrow to bring me my prize. Do not fail me.”
Cardinal Thorn takes a seat at his desk. Tiadora arrives right on cue. “This way,” is all she says.
Tiadora is again less than helpful when questioned. She will admit that the PCs can bring Grumblejack with them and they can leave the basement if they wish. Once their questions are finished she leaves them at a set of stairs leading below the Manor. The rooms below serve as a test for potential recruits and eliminates the unworthy.


1 - The Chamber of Deception - Stone stair lead down to an empty chamber. On the archway is an inscription, “Deception is a tool. Self-deception is death. Deceive always thy enemy but never thyself.” The entrances to all the rooms here give these types of hints. The doorway to the east is bait for a pit trap. The north is an alcove containing alchemist’s fire and another inscription, “Thou hast seen through deception to uncover a useful tool.” The south wall contains the true exit.

2 - The Chamber of Many Paths - “Following the herd is for fools. Fear not their icy derision. Instead, fear only thy Infernal Lord.” The chamber is strangely cold and there are tracks leading to the doors on the south and east walls. These are booby trapped with spears. The western wall has a door but it’s covered by a Violet Mold. Fire and body heat will make the mold grow and deal damage to the PCs, cold damage will destroy it.

3 - The Chamber of Darkness - “Know your enemy. Shatter all that blinds you and then burn thy adversary to ashes.” The room beyond is shrouded in magic darkness the source of which is a glass orb in the center of the room. The darkness provides cover for a nasty Vampiric mist that will pick away at the PCs if they fumble around the room. The two doors out of the room are barred and will take a full round to open. Destroying the orb or casting magic light spells is the best way to deal with this room.

4 - Timeon’s Redoubt - “Cruelty is a tool not a pastime. Be ruthless to thy enemy but reward those who serve thee well.” This room contains only a torturer’s rack. A search of the room will reveal a hidden chamber and the terrified squire Timeon(LG Human Aristoract CR1/4) who has been here a few days. Cardinal Thorn has allow him to overhear some details about the rest of the dungeon which would be useful to know. The PCs can talk him out of the information or torture it out of him. (I think one of the later books in the AP suggest he can be pushed into a crisis of faith and overtime converted to worshipping Asmodeus if the PCs let him live and treat him kindly. My player’s never came to this room.)


5 - The Chamber of Might - “The chosen are revealed by their might. The weak deserve no sympathy.” The door to the south is barred but before the PCs can get out they have to deal with a pair of Mithral Cobras (CR3). They have high AC, DR 5/-, construct traits, SR13 and paralysis poison. This was a tough fight and softenes up the PCs for what comes after.

6 - The Chamber of Sin - “Suffer not the fool. Stupidity is our faith’s cardinal sin.” In the middle of the chamber is a pedestal with a silver and sapphire amulet. An Appraise or Perception check will reveal the sapphires are fake. Taking the stair to the east will activate a spiked ball trapping hitting anyone between the dotted lines. If the PCs try to present the amulet to Cardinal Thorn he berates them and orders them back to the basement.
6a and 6b - a secret passage will bring the PCs around room 7.

7 - The Chamber of the Shrieker - “Secrecy is our greatest ally. Exposure brings death.” Beyond the door is another darkened room. In the center of the room is a Shrieker which if the PCs trigger it will alert the occupants of rooms 8 and 9, The east wall hides a staircase leading to another part of the manor.

8 - The Chamber of the Risen - “Beware the fallen for they may rise once more to threaten you.” In this room are 8 barnacle encrusted coffins, 4 of them contain Draugr. It the PCs triggered the Shrieker thy will have already awakened and begun tearing their wear through coffins and doors to get to room 7. (Timeon knows about these two rooms.)

9 - Sir Balin’s Cell - “Serve thy master well and be rewarded.” The door is heavy and well locked but a key hangs on the wall nearby.

quote:

Sir Balin of Karfeld waits in this cell. He is a captured knight of the Alerion order and is personally famous for hunting followers of Asmodeus. He may have been instrumental in capturing one or more of the PCs.
Cardinal Thorn captured Sir Balin(LG Human Fighter 5) and Timeon a few days ago as a gift to the PCs and a final test. There’s a variety of ways he can bargained with or blackmailed but let’s get real, it’s murder time. Around his neck is a silver and sapphire holy symbol of Mitra and the object of their quest.


Success
Cardinal Thorn congratulates the party and gives a little speech about how much you should hate any Mitrans. Then he offers to complete your training.

Failure
If the PCs fail to return the amulet in 24 hours Thorn admonishes them and orders Tiadora, in a fade to black, to torture the poo poo of out the group for their failure. They still get to complete their training but are a little worse for wear.

Of course Cardinal Thorn was scrying on the party the whole time and has learned about their strengths and weakness. Over the next 3 months he trains the group, forging them into the perfect weapon of his revenge. This is all handled as a montage, but when the training is done they do gain a mechanical benefit, another Trait.

“Asmodeus is with you.” - Whenever you channel energy, you gain a +1 trait bonus to the save DC of your channeled energy.
“Deception is a tool. Master it.” - You gain a +1 trait bonus to Bluff and Sense Motive.
“Discover what is real and what is illusion.” - You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against illusions.
“Fear nothing save our dread lord.” - You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against fear effects.
“Focus strengthens your will.” - You gain a +2 trait bonus on saving throws against charm and compulsion effects.
“Let us perfect your favorite spell” - Pick one spell. This spell’s effects manifest at +1 caster level.
“Quiet as death” - You gain a +2 trait bonus to Stealth checks.
“Strike first, strike ruthlessly and thus be victorious” - You gain a +2 trait bonus on Initiative checks. (All but one of my player’s chose this, because you know Pathfinder.)
“Wear your armor like a second skin.” - When you wear armor of any sort, reduce that suit’s armor check penalty by 1 to a minimum check penalty of 0.
“You shall be my angel slayer.” - You gain a +2 trait bonus on Knowledge (planes) checks about good-aligned celestials and receive a +1 trait bonus to any damage roll you make against them.

During these 3 months The White Ravens are undergoing the same training and there are opportunities for roleplaying. When your training is finished the Cardinal rewards you with a feast complete with a summoned devil, human sacrifice and other devilish rituals.

quote:

Behold he proclaims, “The Nessian Knot is forged.”
“Just in time,” Cardinal Thorn remarks. “My ship has arrived.” On the river dock behind the manor under cover of darkness, a square-sailed longship sails into the slip. It sits heavily in the water, laden with a substantial cargo.

NEXT TIME - The Frozen North

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Selachian posted:

In practice, I found the Nine Lessons to be a tedious linear dungeon crawl. If I ever run WOTW again, I'd probably cut most of it and just use the final fight with Sir Balin as a "test."

I was a bit concerned about the contract because you know how players get at the slightest hint of something that impinges on their free will, but there was surprisingly little grumbling. Some were concerned over the clause that required them to obey Cardinal Thorn's every commandment; it might be better to edit that to only commands relevant to their mission, or something like that.

Our group went through it in one session but yeah it's not the most exciting section of the AP other than for showing that Thorn is willing to let them die.

I told my players about the contract before character creation to make sure everyone would be on board.

Cythereal posted:

Also, it's a game about playing lawful evil. Of course the guy's going to betray you eventually, the big question is whether you'll survive and rules lawyer your way out of it.
This 110%. The contract is vague, one-sided in favor of Thorn and open to interpretation. Even when Cardinal Thorn does betray the PCs they are still bound by their side and need to get creative to get out of their end.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 1 - A Kickstarter for Evil


When last we left our maltagonists they had completed their induction into the service of Asmodeus and their master Cardinal Thorn had feted them in an unholy feast.

ACT THREE: FIRE AXE (PCs are 3rd level)
Unbeknownst to the PCs Cardinal Thorn commands the 7th Knot to begin a campaign of subversion and murder all along the Watch Wall to weaken the Northern defenses ahead of the PCs mission. They are summoned next to receive their orders.

quote:

“Your mission is war, my children. You will bring war to Talingarde.”
The 9th Knot is given two objectives. First, escort that ship mentioned at the end of the last Act into the Frozen North, it is laden with crafted weapons destined for the horde of the Bugbear chief Sakkarot Fire-Axe. The Bugbear horde is camped on the north side of Lake Tarik. After the cargo is delivered the PCs will be taken across the lake to complete part two of their mission. Thorn does order them to tie up loose ends and kill the ship’s Captain Kargeld Odenkirk along with the rest of the crew and burn the Frosthamar, the man is too greedy and knows too much. Also take the money he was paid, because gently caress anyone not useful to the Cardinal.

Part two is a bit harder; nearby is Castle Balentyne, one of the key defensive points of the Watch Wall. Bugbears are dumb and no amount of arms and armor from the civilized world will get them past this fortification. The PCs will need to destroy the defenses of Castle Balentyne, kill it’s commander Lord Thomas Havelyn(Cardinal Thorn’s brother), raise the gates and allow Sakkarot’s horde to pass. Cardinal Thorn hands the PCs an enchanted clay tablet to break once their mission is complete. After some promises of reward for success and threats of eternal torment for failure he toasts the group and sends them off.


Now We’re on a Boat
The Frosthamar is an over sized Viking longboat; it sits low in the water thanks to the the 24 tons of weapons and armor, bearing the sign of the Fire-Axe, earmarked for the Bugbear Horde. The ship is crewed by a half dozen foreign sailors commanded by Captain Kargeld (NE Human Barbarian 4). The ship is sturdy and well made but without comforts; the PCs will sleep on deck with the crew. Kargeld heads down river and out to sea proceeding north along the coast; it’s slow going with such a heavy cargo. Kargeld refuses to stop at the port of Daveryn for fear of being caught; you have now been at sea for a week. Further north beyond the Watch Wall the seas grow rougher and we’ll face a series of events before Act III is complete.


1 - The Blade of St. Martius - As the ship passed the eastern terminus of the Watch Wall it is approached by a patrol vessel. The PCs and Captain Kargeld get a Perception check to notice “The Blade of St. Martius” before it arrives. Otherwise they are surprised and have less than a minute to prepare. “The Blade” is a fast 30 footer crewed by a dozen soldiers and it’s Captain, Edward Sambryl. The Frosthamar cannot hope to outrun it. The Blade will come along sides and prepare to board. The book lays out a few ways this can go. If the PCs let Kargeld take the lead he rages as soon as Sambryl and the 4 soldiers come aboard, meanwhile the 8 still on The Blade open up with arrow fire focusing on any obvious magic users. The PCs can also try deceiving Sambryl using their iron circlets or forged documents.

2 - The Hope of the Haunted
- Nerianus is a Triton Oracle of Mitra (level 4) (Oracles being the divine version of Sorcerers in Pathfinder). How a fishman ends up being devoted to Mitra is a good question, but whatever. Lately he’s been having visions of a terrible evil force rising and has gathered a level appropriate group to attack the PCs. Two dolphins, four Triton Warriors, a Small Water Elemental and Nerianus himself attack the Frosthamar. Once defeated Nerianus will make the following prophecy with his last gasps:

quote:

“The shining sun has seen the wickedness you hide in hearts. And thus it will be the son who brings your doom.”
This the first reference the PCs get to Sir Richard Thomasson Haveyln, who will be a foe throughout the the AP. He is the son of the man they have been sent to kill and the nephew of their master, Cardinal Thorn. The handling of Sir Richard is one of my nitpicks with the AP; a solid nemesis is important to get any group of PCs (good or evil) invested in a long term campaign and WotW undersells him all along the way. They’ll face him directly in books 2 and 5, but he’s working against them behind the scenes in books 3 and 4. I dealt with this two ways. First, some of the Mitran casters the PCs defeated would utter dying prophecies similar to the one uttered by Nerianus; second, two of the PCs were killed by Sir Richard during book 2 and afterwards they had weird visions that told somewhat of his actions off camera during books 3 and 4.

3 - Seal Isle - Far in the frozen north is an island that is home to the richest fur seal nesting ground in Talingarde. Captain Kargeld will divert the ship there for 3 days to harvest as many pelts as possible. Hunting parties will make Survival checks gathering more pelts based on the margin of success. Lurking in the water is a pair of Bunyips that will try to dump boats into the water. (The thought of Swim checks and water based combat in Pathfinder gives me indigestion so I just skipped this encounter.)

4 - The Whale-Hunters - The ship is approached by a small group of kayaks and a canoe around noon of some day. These boats are crewed by Yutak hunters heading south to trade furs and ivory with the Talireans. The hunters are lead by White Tusk a young chieftain of the Yutak (N Human Ranger 4) and a shaman Joseph Calls-Fire-From-Water (CN Human Druid 3). The Yutak are interested in trade and have a bountiful haul from their recent expedition; 15 walrus tusks totaling 1200gp and a large 8ft narwhal horn worth 2000gp. The narwhal horn proves easy to enchant and reduce the time and cost if made into a magic staff, rod or wand. Throughout the AP the PCs will find similar unique quasi-magical components that can serve as trophies of their journey. I really like this element the authors included.
The Yutak don’t work metal and value it highly; they will make generous trades with the PCs. If it comes to violence there aren’t any consequences and the PCs sail off with a tidy haul. If trade is concluded peacefully White Tusk can provide information about Event 5 and may be a useful ally later in the campaign.

5 - The Laughing Storm - Sometime in the dead of night the temperature plummets and snow starts falling on the open deck of the Frosthamar. The crew lights torches which offends a local ice spirit, Kiliketz (N Ice Mephit). Kiliketz is accompanied by 4 ice elementals (yah! para-elemental planes) who terrify the crew. It’s up to the PCs and Kargeld to fight this encounter. If Kiliketz is capture alive he can be intimidated into serving the PCs.

6 - The Bugbear Camp - North of Seal Island is a bay that leads to the river Taiga, a passage to Lake Tarik. Kargeld deftly maneuvers the Frosthamar through the ice floe that crowds the bay. The river winds through an ancient, snow-covered forest and between towering mountains to their destination. On the northern bank of Lake Tarik sprawls the camp of Sakkarot Fire-Axe, thousands of Bugbears can be seen even from a distance. The PCs can also make out goblins, polar bears and few giants in the camp.
A crude pier extends into the lake, the only place for the Frosthamar to dock. At the end of the pier are 4 bored Bugbear thugs that will try to attack the ship as soon as it docks to kill the PCs and seize the cargo for themselves. If not dealt with quickly more Bugbears will join in hoping for a share of the spoils.
Shortly after Sakkarot will arrive and demand to know who sent them, any appropriate response will satisfy him.

Hail Asmodeus!

quote:

“These humans are my guests. I will deal with anyone who harms them. They are our allies!” He walks over to the boat and rips open one of the crates revealing finely made axes with in. He tosses one to a nearby bugbear warrior who until this time only had a crude club to wield. “Behold, they bring us steel!” This earns the PCs a terrifying chorus of growls and cheers from the monstrous assembly.
As the cargo is distributed the PCs can witness, in a short time, the horde transforming into an army. Later Sakkarot holds a feast in honor of the PCs with all manner of savage creatures in attendance. It looks a lot like the Dothraki wedding from Game of Thrones.

7 - A Private Audience - As the festivities abate Sakkarot invites the PCs to speak privately and dismisses his lieutenants. If for whatever reason a fight breaks out his guards aren’t far off and the Fire-Axe(LE bugbear Fighter 8 with elite ability scores and a +2 unholy flaming greataxe) is no pushover. Sakkarot wants to learn what the PCs know about Thorn’s plan and proves to be far above average intelligence for a Bugbear. In casual conversation he’ll reveal a couple of things; burned onto the fur of his chest is the unholy symbol of Asmodeus and he is the leader and only member of the 1st Knot.
This is also an opportunity for the PCs to learn more about the conspiracy they have joined. With role-playing and Skill checks Sakkarot will reveal that he intends to betray the Bugbear horde in service of Thorn's plan and he knows that Cardinal Thorn was once a priest of Mitra. When the conversation peters out Sakkarot will close the evening.

quote:

“Tomorrow you must depart this camp. It will never be truly safe for you here. Over the next week, more tribes will rally to my banner. I will promise them blood and give them steel. Then at last I will be ready to march. A week after that – I will be poised to strike. I will move my horde to the valley just north of Balentyne. There we will wait for your signal. Fire this rocket into the air. Within the hour, we will attack. Make sure that the way is ready.
“After we gather, my horde will be idle and start to grow anxious. I can hold them together for another two weeks. After that, I expect desertions and squabbling. Get your work done before then. You have one month to infiltrate and destroy Balentyne.”
The Fire-Axe will be another major NPC that shows up again in Books 3, 4, 5 and maybe 6 so this is a good opportunity to build a relationship.

8 - Loose Ends - With the feast and private meeting concluded the PCs can complete the last leg of their journey. Kargeld is anxious to be away from the camp. The ship crosses the mist covered lake and deposits the PCs on the southern shore; from here Kargeld plans to betray them and flee beyond Cardinal Thorn’s reach. :v: If he is not dealt with Castle Balentyne will receive a warning within a few days and Act 4 will be much more complicated.

Assuming standard murder-hoboism and a healthy dose of evil this won’t come to pass. With the captain and crew murdered roughly 6200gp in coin and sundries can be gathered from the ship.

The PCs stand on the shore of Lake Tarik ready to begin the next phase of Cardinal Thorn’s plan; they have 4 weeks to complete their mission. The Act closes like this:

quote:

You are close now. Just a few miles from here sits the small market town of Aldencross and less than a mile from there is the watchtower of Balentyne – your goal. Already Sakkarot’s horde gathers and prepares to move. Within two weeks, they will be in a small valley north of the lake awaiting your signal. Fire the rocket into the air at just the right moment and you will take the first step towards claiming vengeance against Talingarde.
Destiny has taken you here. Destiny has given you a mission. There is no doubt that the future of this green and pleasant land lies in your hands. You could go to that town right now and warn them of the plots of the sinister Cardinal Thorn. You could give yourself up and face the justice you deserve. You could turn back from the horror and the slaughter that you are going to inflict upon these Mitran sheep. This is that moment. This is the turning point. After this, there is no going back. Any one eager for redemption?
Pause.
I thought not. Come, my friends. We have work to do. We must burn Balentyne.
The DM narration makes these weird changes between 1st and 3rd person a few times in the AP.

Acts 2 & 3 establishes one of my favorite things about this AP, a sense of time elapsing. In the other Pathfinder APs I’ve done you go from zero to hero in a few months. This AP takes place over 5-6 years which feels more reasonable and reflects the earlier conceit that villains need to execute plans that take time to develop while heroes react to threats.

NEXT TIME: We didn’t start the Fire.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Selachian posted:

I do think most of the encounters sailing north are filler of the sort that infests Pathfinder APs. At most, they establish that Captain Kargeld is an rear end in a top hat and you shouldn't feel guilty about backstabbing him (if you even would, since you're evil).

The Kargeld fight is pretty dull, though. It's just one big guy and a handful of mooks. I wrestled with ways to make it more interesting but finally decided screw it, these are just ordinary sailors, the PCs should be able to exterminate them with any reasonable-sounding plan.

Fire-Axe is a fun character. I wish the PCs interacted with him a bit more, but my players always enjoyed hearing news of his exploits through the rest of the campaign.

It's definitely one of the least interesting sections of the AP but it does do a few things. The encounter with the Blade reminds the PCs that Talingarde is still out to get them, the encounter with the Tritons introduces Sir Richard albeit cryptically and meeting the Fire-Axe is cool. My players loved Fire-Axe and bro'd down with him at every opportunity.

Cthulhu Dreams posted:

I think it's quite telling that all the APs (For 3rd, 4e and 5E) that I have tried that feel the need to shackle themselves to the XP chart have broken pacing when run as is.

Because it's part of the system and it's tradition. :v: My group tends not to mess around with side quests so we've run into trouble a few times with being under leveled by the end of the AP and struggling with encounters. For this AP I ended up doing what The Lone Badger suggested and just leveling up when appropriate based on the Act. Not tracking experience improved the flow of sessions and changed how we play D&D type games. I don't think we'll ever track experience again.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Doresh posted:

That's the spirit!
Definitely leaning more towards that myself. Nothing is worse than running a fight for the sake of running a fight.

It's been almost 5 years since I started the AP with my group so it's hard to remember but I think we did Acts 1-3 each in single sessions. The fight with Kargeld was quick since they alpha striked him during the surprise round then mopped up the crew.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
It seems like Godbound would be the better system for playing in the setting of The Strange.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
I thought 2016 couldn't get any worse.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Way of the Wicked - Book 1 - We didn’t start the Fire

We totally did start the Fire.

ACT FOUR: Burning Balentyne (PCs are 4th level)
Cardinal Thorn believes this mission will succeed because no one expects an attack from within, Talingarde is united behind the worship of Mitra and the opposition to evil. Surely no one would aid the savage Bugbears in invading the kingdom. Thorn also does not know the full extent of Castle Balentyne’s defenses and prefers to let the PCs find out rather than leading the attack himself.

It will quickly become obvious that a direct assault is suicidal; unlike Castle Branderscar this place is fully and competently manned. Such a foolhardy attack would be a CR 16+ encounter and the castle would send out ravens requesting reinforcements.

One Hundred Guards!?!
Opponents in Castle Balentyne can be put into 3 groups. The author suggests focusing on the first 2 groups as fighting 100 low level dudes is boring.
The important people in the Castle are Lord Havelyn, his captains Eddarly, Mott, Varning and Barhold, the priest Father Donnagin and the mage Titus. Also included in this group are the Dwarven engineer Barnabus Eisenbauch and Mad Martin the master of ravens.

Three inhuman creatures also inhabit the Castle. A group of Lantern Archons, an Ice Golem and Mad Martin’s raven swarm. They will only be encountered in specific places.

Lastly are the 100 ordinary human guards, servants, dwarves and other mooks.. They can be dealt with easily in small groups but if allowed to mass up they will overwhelm the PCs. Killing their leaders will reduce them to a cowering mass instead of a real threat.

Castle Balentyne

Nice castle you got there, shame if something happened to it.

The castle overlooks the River Tyburn and Lake Tarik to the west. A massive bridge allows access to the Frozen North.

OUTSIDE THE CASTLE
Trees are cleared back 100 yards giving clear line of sight on anyone approaching the castle. About a mile away is the market town of Aldencross.

Here’s the Castle layout, about 4 times as much to explore and gently caress around with as Branderscar.

  • 1 - The Dwarven Vault - Deep below the Keep is a stockpile of rations, water and sundries. It won’t be visited during the events of Act 4 unless the PCs force a room by search. There’s a trap door leading to room 2 and a secret door leads to “The Lord’s Dalliance”. More on that later.

    LEVEL 1
  • 2 - The Armory - There might be guards here depending on the time of day.
  • 3-6 - The Officer’s Quarters - These rooms house Captain’s Barhold, Varning, Mott and Eddardly respectively. As the senior captain Barhold(LG Human Fighter 7) is most likely to be found asleep in his bed at night, practically defenseless. An excellent opportunity for the PCs to murderize him. Varning(LG Human Fighter 6) comes from a wealthy family and keeps a house in Aldencross, he is unlikely to be found here. Mott(LN Human Fighter 6) comes from a prominent Ghastenhall family and also keeps a house in town. The house is kept by his beautiful wife Kaitlyn, it a loveless arranged marriage. Room 6 is home to the handsome Captain Eddarly(CG Human Fighter 6), his room is full of finery fit for a nobleman. A careful search will also find love letters from Kaitlyn Mott to Eddarly.
  • 7 - The Garderobe - Castle toilet, no encounters here.
  • 8 - The Main Thoroughfare - It lives up to it’s name, during the day the odds of meeting guards, servants or important NPCs is high. At night there will be at least 3 guards in the hallway.
    • 8a - Is the servant’s entrance, the door will normally be open during the day with two guards posted. Above it hangs the Great Seal of Balentyne a great stone slab that is one of the castle’s most prominent features.
    • 8b - This door leads to the bridge over the river. When barred it will present a serious obstacle to Bugbears.
  • 9 - Barracks - The room is full of bunk beds. At night it is three-quarters full of sleeping guards, during the day there will be a few stragglers hanging about.
  • 10 - Kitchens - Castle servants are present at all times of the day preparing meals and carrying out chores.
  • 11 - Pantry - Two days worth of fresh food.
  • 12 - Mess Hall - A place for off duty guards to congregate and take their meals, 3d6 will be found here at any time.
  • 13 - Storeroom - Contains all the odds and ends needed to maintain the castle. Among other things the room holds holds torches, pitch, lamp oil and lumber. The makings of a great distraction for the castle guards.
  • 14 - Vestiary - Changing area for the watchtower’s Clerical detachment. A ladder leads up to room 26.
  • 15a-15e - Acolyte’s Cells - Each is home to a Level 1 Cleric of Mitra. They’ll either be found in room 26 at choir practice or room 27 tending the gardens.
  • 16 - Shrine - Private shrine and meeting place for the watchtower’s Clerics.
  • 17 - Father Donnagin’s Cell - This simple chamber is home to the second most powerful foe in the castle. Father Donnagin(LG Human Cleric 6) is a gentle, caring man beloved by all the guards. He fancies himself an amatuer detective (in the mold of Father Brown) and will help Lord Havelyn investigate any mysterious deaths.

    Who would want to hurt this guy? You would; that’s who.

  • 18 - The Bridge - It stretches over the River Tyburn which rages far below at the bottom of a deep canyon.
    • 18a - A short drawbridge can be raised to separate the rest of the keep from the Gatehouse. Making sure this is lowered before the Bugbear assault is crucial to your success. The drawbridge is controlled from room 25 which doesn’t seem like the best place but whatever.
  • 19 - Gatehouse Entryway - With arrow slits on the north/south walls and murder holes above this room is pure death trap for any invaders caught here.
      19a - A stupid heavy portcullis blocks entry into the gate house. Breaching it by force would waste valuable time and allow defenders to prepare. Making sure this gate is open is another key part of Thorn’s plan.

  • 20 - 21 - Storage - Provisions and water are here to sustain the gatehouse in the event of a prolonged siege. If the castle is under attack there will be 5 archers stationed in each room.

LEVEL 2
  • 22 - Aldencross Gate - This is the gate used by official visitors and patrols heading out to make sure monster aren’t slipping across over the lake. There are always 2 guards posted. It’s not clearly explained in the book but I guess Level 1 is partially below ground in places otherwise it doesn’t make sense that Level 2 also has a ground level exit. The winch to operate the portcullis here is is on the battlement above.
  • 23 - The Walls - Only accessible by narrow stairways, the walls rise 20 feet above the courtyard.
    • 23a - The winch here is always protected by two guards and it is one of the castle’s greatest secrets. It lowers the Great Seal down at 8a providing a stop gap incase the lower levers are taken by invaders. This will buy time for defenders and the only way up from Level 1 would be rooms 10 and 14. The winch is easily sabotaged by removing a widget.
  • 24 - The Bridge of Death - It overlooks the main bridge and gives the perfect vantage point to rain down arrows and stones on any attackers that might get past the Gatehouse. Two guards are always posted here.
  • 25 - Gatehouse 2nd Level - Two massive pots of scalding hot sand sit in the middle of the room ready to pour down the murder holes and annihilate any invaders below. The walls contain arrow slits and also found here are winches the raise and lower the drawbridge and portcullis. There is also a door that leads out to 24.
  • 26 - The Choir Hall - Back in the main keep is the castle’s chapel. During weekly services about 35 guards, all the notable NPCs and the acolytes can be found here. The vaulted ceilings rise 25 feet above the floor and the outer edge is lined with statues of singing MItran saints.

    quote:

    It may seem to be only an empty church most of the time but this consecrated place is far from unprotected. When this choir hall was first built, the cardinal who consecrated it summoned forth nine lantern archons to fill the chamber with music and to protect it always. Now they hide up among the stone statues of the saints that adorn the high walls. When the choir sings, they hum in sympathetic vibration filling the hall with celestial music. This has led to the rumors about “the singing saints of Balentyne”.
    Any evil dudes or dudettes entering the room will be detected by the archons and if they don’t leave quickly a fight will break out. The archons form Voltron after two rounds of combat and become a Lantern Archon Gestalt (CR8).


  • 27 - Courtyard - Back outside in the open air portion of the keep is a well maintained lawn and simple fountain.
  • 28 - Statue - A massive statue of King Markadian I, full clad in heavy armor in the prime of his youth and might.
  • 29 - Garden Shed - Contains yard tools.
  • 30 - Stables - Lord Havelyn’s Warhorse can be found here along with the mounts for Captain Varning’s rangers.
  • 31 - Great Hall - The assembly area for the guards and where the commander meets with important visitors. Two guards are usually found here.
  • 32 - Flag Room - A big open room room ringed by large flags. Stairs lead up into the tower. Two guards are usually stationed here.

LEVEL 3
  • 33 - Gatehouse Battlements - Siege engines dominate the roof of the Gatehouse; there are two massive ballistae and the devices to drop stones on any attackers outside the portcullis. This is one of the most important defensive points of the castle and one of the captains, Barhold, Mott or Eddardly, will always be found here. During the the day Barnabus and his dwarves will be here doing repairs to the fortifications.
  • 34 - Hall of Honor - Two guards are always stationed here; in the event that attackers enter the main keep they push a capstone into the stairwell blocking access to the upper levels. On the wall is inscribed the names of every man that has died defending the castle.
  • 35a-g - Prison Cells - Seven cells in the main keep. Any PC that is captured will be stripped and kept here.
  • 36 - Stairs up to room 39
  • 37 - Torture Chamber - Once used to interrogate prisoners the room has fallen into disuse as Lord Havelyn despises torture.
  • 38 - Tower Archer’s Nest - Another key point of the castle. Stored here are 4000 arrows and the walls are lined with arrow slits. This is a commanding vantage point for defenders to rain down death. Usually unguarded.

LEVEL 4
  • 39 - Guard Room - Two guards will be found here at all times.
  • 40 - Mage’s Laboratory - Your standard mad scientists lab complete with a monster. On a slab in the center of the room is an Ice Golem (CR 5) that the castle’s Magister Tacticus has been repairing. He’ll command it to attack any intruders here.
  • 41 - Mage’s Private Quarters - Bed chambers and study of the reclusive Tacticus of Morimun (LN Human Wizard 6), he’ll either be found here or his laboratory. Arcane spell casting isn’t much loved in Talingarde and the wizard has a sinister reputation with the castle guards. A search of the room will find a locked chest containing his spellbook full of fire spells.

    Fire..huh, huh...fire, fire, fire.

  • 42 - Guard Room - Will be empty unless the castle is on alert.
  • 43 - The Rookery - Home to Mad Martin (NG Human Commoner 6) and his messenger ravens; this is another strategic point of Balentyne. Martin rarely leaves here preferring the company of the birds, but he will leave for meals and religious services. If not destroyed the raven’s will quickly carry word of an invasion to all nearby reinforcements; without them the response will be too late. If attacked here Mad Martin can call up his ravens of attack as a swarm (CR 3), he will also try to blow his signal horn and call human guards to his aid.

LEVEL 5
  • 44 - Upper Landing - Two guards are always stationed here. There is a trapdoor and ladder leading to the roof.
  • 45 - Guest Room - Room for official visitors.
  • 46 - Lord’s Council Chambers - Conference room of Lord Havelyn, it’s very plain as befits the man. In the northwest corner of the room is a heavy oaken chest that is locked, trapped and alarmed. This is the castle treasury, contained within is 7400gp worth of coins and valuable objects. Notably there are some commemorative coins celebrating the birth of Princess Belinda (the first time we encounter her outside the Gazetteer), 5 potions of cure light wounds and 2 elixirs of truth.
  • 47 - Lord’s Private Chamber - The plainly furnished the room has one distinguishing feature; a portrait of Bronwyn of Balentyne, possibly the most beautiful woman any of the PCs have ever seen. Lord Havelyn has made this area a shrine to his dead wife. Also to be found here is a family bible containing the house lineage. Examination will reveal that the name of Lord Havelyn’s brother has been crossed out, Samuel Havelyn Cardinal of Mitra, this another clue for PCs to the identity of their employer. Lord Thomas Havelyn (LG Human Aristocrat 2/ Paladin 7) is one of the stated targets of your attack on Castle Balentyne; he can be a challenge on his own if given a chance to buff up and if accompanied by his men may very well overcome the PCs.

    Portrait of a man who huffs his own farts.

    quote:

    Once Lord Havelyn is slain, the first PC who touches the +1 champion full plate proficient with the armor watches at the magic armor transforms before their eyes. It is no longer shining plate armor. Instead it become black, baroque armor adorned with the infernal iconography of Lord Asmodeus. It is now +1 dastard full plate.
    Truly, the Dark Lord of Nessus watches these deeds.
    Here’s the kickass armor of our iconic Anti-Paladin.

LEVEL 6
  • 48 - Keep’s Roof - Three guards are always here to watch the surrounding area for any threats. The trebuchet is currently under repair by dwarven engineers and will not be ready in time frame of this AP.


SUGGESTED APPROACHES
That was a lot of castle, but let’s not forget why we’re here. If the defenses of Castle Balentyne can be brought down Sakkarot’s horde will invade Talingrade completing the first step in Cardinal Thorn’s plan. Also his stupid brother will be dead. But you can’t just attach directly, the castle on full alert at full strength will likely crush the PCs and at the very least allow time for reinforcements to arrive. A dollop of sneakiness is the order of the day. The book suggests a few obvious approaches for the GM but as we all know PCs can and will do anything.
Humble Servants - Using the iron circlets PCs can disguise themselves as the castle’s menial laborers. Lowly servant’s can go nearly anywhere in Balentyne and spread all manner of chaos. If the castle is put on lockdown, welp, now they’re trapped in here with you.
Murderous Mice - The secret door in room 1 leads to the Lord’s Dalliance in Aldencross. This passage will let the PCs enter the castle at any time, wreak havoc and slip out. Eventually the passage will be discovered but the damage they can do from within should be irreparable.
Agents of the King - Posing as servants of King Markadian the PCs can gain entrance the highest levels of the Keep. This is a conspicuous position and suspicion will quickly fall on them once trouble starts.
The Lost Patrol - Regular patrols are sent out along the River Tyburn and the southern edge of Lake Tarik; usually Captain Varning and 6 other mounted guardsman. The patrol can be ambushed the PCs can impersonate them to gain entrance to the castle. This ruse won’t last long as the guards know each other well after years of service together.
The Play’s The Thing! - Ye Merrie Men a troupe of traveling actors, led by William Marcus Marlowe, the beloved Bard of Barrington, are set to arrive soon for a one night only performance of their famous play “The Fall of Amberlyn”. The PCs can murder the troupe and take their places to gain access to the castle. They will have a few days before the performance to do their dirty work.

NON-LINEAR EVENTS

Event 1 - Arriving across Lake Tarik the PCs have a range of options on how they proceed. This section of the AP is sandbox-ish, with a concrete goal but no fixed path on how to achieve it. The book presents some events that could occur depending on how they proceed.
Aldencross is accustomed to traders and adventurers so a few more strangers won’t be out of place. The PCs can pick up mundane and minor magic items and potions, at this point they have a hefty pile of money to spend.

quote:

Aldencross
LG small town
Corruption +0; Crime +0; Economy +2; Law +1; Lore +0; Society +2
Qualities pious, prosperous, strategic location
Danger -5
DEMOGRAPHICS
Government autocracy chosen by the monarchy in Matharyn
Population 1,800 (1,500 humans;150 dwarves; 50 halflings; 100 other)
Notable NPCs
Lord Thomas Havelyn, commander of Balentyne and Lord of Aldencross (LG male human aristocrat 2/ paladin 7)
Father Donnagin, priest of Mitra (LG male human cleric 6)
Tacitus of Morimun, magister (LN male human wizard 7)
Bellam Barhold, owner of the Lord’s Dalliance (N male human expert 3)
MARKETPLACE
Base Value 1,400 gp; Purchase Limit 7500 gp ; Spellcasting 3rd
level divine, 4th level arcane
Minor Items 3d4 items; Medium Items 1d6 items; Major Items --

The Lord’s Dalliance is Aldencross’ only inn. Guards and other travelers can often be found here enjoying strong drink and the company of buxom serving wenches. It’s a good place to gather information about the Castle Balentyne and it’s inhabitants. There’s a d20 table of rumors that can be gathered here something that we’ll get any time the PCs stay in one place for an extended time in the AP. Some are true others are false; some are completely irrelevant. Here are a few examples.

quote:

Lord Havelyn is a good soul but so grim and gloomy. For so great a lord to be unhappy, he must be guilty about something! (False. Lord Havelyn is grim and unhappy because of the loss of his true love Bronwyn. It may have been years ago but he never rediscovered his joy after she died.)

quote:

There’s a pack of dwarves in town led by a grumpy short fellow named Barnabus Eisenbauch. They’re here to fix up the watchtower or so I’ve heard. A hard working fellow -- just don’t challenge him to a drinking contest. He’ll drink you under the table every time! (True. Barnabus does have a weakness for strong drink and is staying at this very inn. See below for more details on how this could be used to the PC’s advantage.)

quote:

They say the bugbears are massing up north. I wonder what their up to? Well, it doesn’t matter! We’ll be ready for ‘em! You’d think those shaggy walking carpets would have learned by now that the Watch Wall is unbreakable!{Partially True. The bugbears are massing and the Watch Wall is far from unbreakable. But this is a common belief about town.)

quote:

Did you hear about prisoners escaping from Branderscar? Were they ever caught? (Not yet.)
On the last example we’ll get an entry or two on each rumor table about the consequences of the PCs actions and what is going on in the Kingdom. You the, PC, is making a difference in the world.

Event 2 - Before the Markadian dynasty the Lord’s Dalliance was a brothel. House Markadian outlawed prostitution but they kept the name for the inn. Long before the current royal family a commander of Castle Balentyne had a secret passage constructed leading from the dwarven vault to the inn’s basement so he could meet with his favorite lady. The secret door is well concealed and will be difficult for the PCs to locate if they even know of it’s existence. The innkeep Bellam Barhold does know about the passage and on the first night the PCs stay at the Dalliance he uses it to sneak into Balentyne to liberate some fine elven wine from the vault. Perception checks will reveal someone sneaking around the inn and if they investigate the PCs may learn about the secret door. If Barhold is killed it will raise suspicions and Father Donnagin will investigate. (Guess what my idiot players did their first night in town?)
Event 3 - A group of 11 dwarves are also staying at the Dalliance, they are here as part of a project to rebuild the watchtower defenses. The group is lead by Barnabus Eisenbauch (N Dwarf Expert 4/Fighter 2) and they can usually be found at the inn when off duty. Up in Barnabus’ room is a full map of the watchtower which would be invaluable to the PCs. Barnabus and his men love to drink and can be baited into drinking contests which the PCs can exploit to their advantage.
Event 4 - It is common knowledge among guards and around town that Captain Varning leads a patrol of the wilderness about once a week. Accompanied by 6 other guards the mounted patrol makes it’s way through the wilderness searching for signs of any threats from the north trying to slip across the waters of Lake Tarik. This is a good opportunity to kill a watch captain and a few guards away from the castle and even infiltrate by impersonating them.
Event 5 - Captain Mott and his beautiful wife Kaitlyn are in a loveless arranged marriage, he’s not a bad guy but neglects his young wife in favor of his military duties hoping to secure a promotion and knighthood. Meanwhile the handsome Captain Zack Eddarly has been taking Kaitlyn to pound town. If the PCs can learn of the affair it’s a simple matter to anonymously send word to Captain Mott. He’ll challenge Eddarly to a duel and one of them will wind up dead. If we remember back to character creation “Dueling unto Death” is a capital offense so two guard captains can be eliminated this way.
Event 6 - Once a week Mama Louisa Giuseppe comes up from Aldencross to cook a special beef stew. Years ago her son’s were part of the garrison and she continues this tradition to honor them and the guardsmen. This old woman’s generosity is an opportunity for the PCs to poison the guard killing and incapacitating some number depending on the poison used.
Event 7 - Ye Merrie Men will be performing their current play “The Fall of Amberlyn” in the Great Hall of the Keep a show that will be attended by nearly all the major NPCs in the castle along with 70 guards, all the servants, acolytes and dwarven engineers. This makes a great distraction with which to kill the only major NPC not in attendance, Mad Martin the master of ravens, and other damage to the defenses. If the PCs impersonate the troupe they will have access to the Keep for 24 hours before they are expected to put on the play. There’s some Performance skill checks and if the play goes off well they will be invited to a private dinner with Lord Havelyn, the four captains and Father Donnagin whom will be mostly defenseless. With one fell stroke the PCs could cut off the head of the snake and have the run of a leaderless Castle Balentyne.

VICTORY POINTS
I saved this part for last. As the PCs are doing their best to do their worst behind the screen the GM is keeping track of how much damage they have caused. When the PCs launch their signal rocket and the Bugbear horde attacks this will be the measure of how well they have prepared the way for Der Tag.

quote:

Actions that can gain (or lose) the PCs Victory Points:
• 5 VP Kill Lord Thomas Havelyn
• -10 VP Lord Thomas not dead during assault
• 2 VP each Kill or remove Captains Eddarly, Mott,
Varning and Barhold
• 3 VP Kill Father Donnagin, priest of Mitra
• 4 VP Kill the magister Tacitus of Morimun
• -5 VP Tacitus alive and in possession of his wand of
fireball during assault
• 1 VP Every Five Soldiers non-combatant during assault
(max. 20 VP)
• 3 VP Destroy the Rookery (see room 43)
• 5 VP Open the portcullis and lower the drawbridge
for the Attackers (see room 25)
• 2 VP Destroy the lantern archons (see room 26)
• 2 VP Kill Barnabus the dwarven siege engineer
• 1 VP Every Five dwarves non-combatant during assault
(max. 2 VP)
• 1 VP Sabotage siege engine (see room 33; max. 4 VP)
• 1 VP Sabotage the murder holes (see room 25)
• 1 VP Burn the arrow stores (see room 38)
• 1 VP Sabotage the seal of Balentyne (see room 23a)
• -2 VP Every day after thirty before the attack commences
Remember that Sakkarot can only maintain his horde at peak strength of 30 days, after that things start to fall apart and infighting breaks up his forces.
Based on the PCs victory point score we have a range of results.
20 or less: Premature Attack - The assault fails, most of the horde is killed along with Sakkarot. Cardinal Thorn’s plans are in ruin; the book suggests there is a path forward but it would require the GM to radically alter the entire AP.
21-30: Repulsed - The horde is beaten back but Sakkarot survives. The PCs can try again but another failure wipes out Sakkarot and the horde.
31-40: Hard Fought Victory - Success but at a cost; much of the horde is killed in the fighting and Sakkarot loses an eye in the battle. The fighting takes long enough that villagers from Aldencross are able to flee spreading word of the invasion.
41-50: Victory - The castle falls and there are minor losses from the horde. Sakkarot is unwounded and the horde quickly reforms to march south. Villagers from Aldencross flee south spreading terror and panic at word of the Fire-Axe’s horde.
51 or more: Slaughter - This is total victory, the Bugbear horde overwhelms Balentyne with few losses, overruns Aldencross in a “feast of human flesh and an orgy of death”. Sakkarot’s forces quickly sweep south spreading death and hatred to all mankind.


END OF THE ADVENTURE
With your mission accomplished the PCs should fire off the signal rocket. The Bugbear horde will pour over the landscape to the north in the thousands. Within the hour they will be inside Balentyne battling the remaining inhabitants. Any major NPCs remaining will try to stop the PCs during this time which could make for an interesting climactic battle.
The PCs should remember at this point to break the clay tablet they were given by Cardinal Thorn a few weeks ago. Tiadora will arrive shortly and lead them to a boat waiting on the lakeside. For their faithful service the PCs receive 5000gp in platinum ingots and a hand written note:

quote:

quote:

“Our lord smiles upon your success. Here is a token of my esteem. Use it to rest, recover and strengthen yourselves. Other commands will come when the Knot is needed. Your work has just begun. – A.”
From a promontory, you can see the great bugbear horde camped south of the Watch Wall. Balentyne yet burns behind you. Tiadora remarks, “I have seen no evidence of any army gathering to meet the horde. It seems Zadaria has also succeeded at her mission and has assassinated the commanders. Truly, a great achievement.
“Making matters worse for poor Talingarde, small bands of creatures unaligned with Sakkarot approach the breach, eager to take advantage of the chaos. How could these beasts know already about this break in the Watch Wall? Someone must have told them. Probably best to leave. This region is about to become very dangerous.
“Still, this will not be enough. Balentyne may be broken but Talingarde is yet strong. Soon word will reach the south. The Heartland and the great cities of the Cambrian Bay will marshal their armies. They will meet Sakkarot on the field and it will be far too close to a fair fight. We must
do something about that.
“Come, my lords, your ship awaits. Try not to burn this one.”
Lords. She called you lords. And lords you are. Lords of death and destruction. Lords of evil. Do you remember Branderscar? Do you remember being held down and branded like animals? How far you have come and how long yet the journey before you. Tiadora is right. This is only your first steps along the way of the wicked.
Savor it, this is one of the few times Tiadora will show you any respect. The boat will take you to your next destination, Book 2 - Call Forth the Darkness.

Whew, the first stage of our wicked journey is complete. There’s some good things in this Book but it’s not the best part of the AP. A prison break is old hat but we get some clever twists. The training montage in Act 2 is neat. The trip north to the Bugbear camp give some interesting details but is mostly filler. Act 4 is the a great opportunity for the PCs to shine and think outside the box. All in all I would rank the first book of the AP 5th out of 6. Book 2 is my favorite and I look forward to covering it in 2017.

Acknowledgements: Big thanks to my contributors on this project; Sun Ra and scotch.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

wiegieman posted:

Yesssss give us stories about how players managed to mess up everything.

These are good LDN, keep doing them.

Thanks. I'll try to get something written up after the office Christmas party tonight.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Nuns with Guns posted:

this is neat! Do you have a write up of how your party played through it anywhere?

This is from memory since I'm a lovely note take.

My players still had the murderhobo mindset and went loud their first night in Aldencross. The PCs arrival was uneventful; some went shopping, a few went closer to Castle Balentyne to scope it out. The group got a room at the Lord's Dalliance (poor Grumblejack being forced to hide in the woods for most of this act) and fished for rumors. Someone rolled a '20' on the chart and learned about the legend of the passage in the basement. Not long after closing the Ninja and another PC snuck into the basement to search for it. They found the secret door and opened the passage when they hear someone coming down the stairs into the basement, so they hide in the passage and shut the door behind themselves. A few moments later Bellam Barhold, the innkeep, opens the secret door coming face to face with the PCs. There were a few moments of awkwardness before the PCs murdered him, stashing the corpse a few hundred feet down the tunnel. Realizing that this is a problem they get the other PCs and decide to head into the castle. Up through the Vault and smithy the first room they come across is Captain Samual Barhold's. They find him sleeping and defenseless and murderize him as well. He does manage to cause a ruckus before dying so the retreat back into the tunnel. This first night sets up a hobby for the PCs, for the rest of the AP anytime they come to a new place they would also seek out any Barholds living there to murder them, by the end of the AP when they were running the kingdom their secret police tracked down and executed any remaining Barholds. Their justification was that Bellam overcharged them for their rooms. I had to invent more members of the family to satisfy their bloodlust since they don't actually appear again in the AP.

Meanwhile back at the Dalliance the PCs decide that with the death of a Watch Captain and the disappearance of his brother they may draw some unwanted attention so they head south in the forest leaving behind Aldencross with the intention of hiding out for a few days. After a days hard riding they come on an isolated farm. The Cleric uses his iron circlet to disguise himself as an old priest of Mitra while the other PCs remain hidden. The kindly old priest is invited in by the farmer and his family and asked to join them for dinner. Father, mother, children, grandparents are all gathered around the table for dinner and ask the priest to say grace, he hits them with "HAIL ASMODEUS" and channels negative energy killing them all where they sit. The PCs now have a place to hide out for a few days while things blow over in Aldencross.

Keep in mind that Sakkarot told them his army won't be ready and in position for two weeks and they have already done all this nonsense. After a few days down on the farm the PCs split into two groups and return to Aldencross at different times of the day to avert any suspicion, they have used the iron circlets to assume new identities. Some more dicking around leads them back to the Dalliance where Bellam's wife is barely holding things together working on the theory that her husband is alive and has been abducted by the mysterious strangers that fled town the night he disappeared. The PCs fish for more rumors and learn about the dwarven engineers reinforcing the castle defenses and the map of the fortifications. The Wizard, Witch and Ninja sneak upstairs to break into the room belonging to Barnabus, The two casters use their familiars to keep an eye on the stairs while the Ninja picks the locked door. The Ninja completely fails to pick the lock and we get the absurd scene of the Wizard teleporting into the room and unlocking the door from the other side to let in the Ninja.

With the stolen plans they use the passage to sneak into the castle again to cause some more damage. They kill a few more guards and destroy the rookery before escaping down the passage once again. Afterwards the castle is on full lockdown so the PCs spend another few days dicking around town. They catch the play by "Ye Merrie Men"in a field outside town before getting the brilliant idea to sneak back across the river and attack the gatehouse. Under the cover of fog cloud they moved in on a moonless night and tried to sabotage the gate and portcullis with stone shape. The gatehouse guards notice them and the PCs retreat under a barrage of arrows and siege weapons, Grumblejack almost dies. Now Castle Balentyne is on the highest alert, good job guys. Fortunately the first two weeks had elapsed at this point. It was also now that the PCs decided to try more stealthy approaches; these fail since the Castle is at DEFCON 1. They wait a few more days to see if the alert level comes down, which it doesn't. At this point they go back thru the tunnel at night, sneak into the main keep and slaughter their way up to Sir Thomas, the Paladin dealt with they make their way out to the gate destroying the defenses and fire off the signal rocket. Enter Sakkarot and horde stage right.

I think their success and failure in this part of the AP taught them the value of more clever puzzle solving rather than just killed first, loot the bodies later.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

theironjef posted:

This is just gonna turn into another Stormbringer, I imagine. Our bona fides: Jon hasn't seen any Babylon 5. I was trying to watch it when Netflix cut it. I think I got about as far as season 3 starting. My most vivid memory of the show is that there was an evil space wizard at one point, which I appreciated as some out-there thinking you wouldn't get in the Star Trek colossus. Of course he was portrayed by a sentient ham loaf which didn't help much.

I've watched B5 a bunch of times but for the life of me can't remember this episode so I'm going to assume you mean the guest appearance by Penn & Teller.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
The more they hate the game the better the episode. I'm still hoping they review the game I mailed them, since it will break them physically and mentally.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

theironjef posted:

Remind me which one that is.

Secrets of Zir'An.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Speaking of Demon and the God-Machine, didn't someone do a write up of God-Machine Chronicle? I wanted to go back and read but don't see it on Inklesspen's archive.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Don't forget the $23 rear end-scratcher.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

unseenlibrarian posted:

Apparently there were copies of it that were actually legible, but the ones that had bad print issues were numerous enough and the word of mouth was bad enough as a result that it pretty much killed the line. I think they published the GM's guide as PDF-only before folding?

Apparently complaints about the silver foiling were bad enough that they released a PDF of the worst sections for free on their website.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

The Sin of Onan posted:

That's still really offensive. You're sounding like Dutch people defending Zwarte Piet as not racist, because the Dutch context of blackface is different to the American one. It's still racist, and so is using the word "gypsy" like that.

American cultural hegemony wins again.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Nuns with Guns posted:

Back again for another entry on…




All the hoops you have to jump through to go to another Recursion are reminiscent of The Whispering Vault and not in a good way. If the adventure for the session is to go gently caress around on Cowboy World why is there a failure chance? That said the "Memory Failure" option on the chart is golden for the chance to have everything be on fire and your PCs the unwitting cause.

LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler
Monte Cook's $200 rear end scratcher.

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LongDarkNight
Oct 25, 2010

It's like watching the collapse of Western civilization in fast forward.
Oven Wrangler

Alien Rope Burn posted:


A man named Redge.

Kevin Smith looking good.

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